Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Auld Lang Syne

Copyright © 2007-2010. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

Happy New Year, Fellow Bloggers! I hope you are enjoying your holiday thus far.

Unfortunately my son's Grandfather and his wife were not able to travel down from Missouri after Christmas due to bad weather at that time. We definitely missed them.

True, it's a little more difficult to have a Merry Christmas with so few people at home, but not impossible. We invited friends over for dinner during the holidays. Then luckily, we were invited to a friend's party on Christmas Eve, which was very nice. We also went to The Long Center to see The Nutcracker Ballet, which was a real treat for my son.

On Christmas morning we ate our traditional breakfast of Egg Nog French Toast, exchanged gifts and watched a movie or two together. One of my favorite's is the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol.

I sincerely hope 2010 brings good luck, happier days, better health and a lot more love for everyone.

"The roses of Love glad the garden of life, Though nurtur'd 'mid weeds dropping pestilent dew, Till Time crops the leaves with unmerciful knife, Or prunes them for ever, in Love's last adieu!" Love's Last Adieu by Lord Byron

Copyright © 2007-2010. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Seton Hospital's Healing Garden

Copyright © 2007-2009. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

Hello Garden Bloggers,

I hope you’re enjoying the holidays. It’s getting quite chilly here in Austin, Texas. I’ve had to break out my winter coat. My goldfish appreciate the heater that keeps their water from freezing at night. I've included some photos of Seton NorthWest Hospital's Healing Garden throughout this entry as I explain what I've been up to these past two months.

[BTW: I will share some personal medical info below. If you'd prefer not to read such things you may want to move on to an alternative entry at this point. ~D]

As some of you may know I had a biopsy to rule out Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) on October 14th. Happily the lab results were fine and apparently I am cancer-free, for which I am very thankful.

That should have been the end of the story. Unfortunately, I had an allergic reaction to the adhesive in the biospy dressing and lost all of my skin surrounding the biopsy (rather like a third-degree burn). Since she was a dermatologist & an MD, I trusted the doctor who did the biopsy to treat me. I knew on the 10th day post-op when she said, “Your wound looks no better. I’ll see you in 2 weeks,” that I needed a second opinion.

Thankfully, my wonderful internist, Dr. Debra Dollar, took one look at my wound, saw it was necrotic and knew what to do: She sent me directly to the NW Seton Hospital’s Wound Clinic. I've been going there 3x's per week for wound therapy since 10/29/09 and will continue to do so until I’m completely healed.

As you might imagine, I’ve learned more about wounds than I ever desired. Oddly enough, a flower-bed metaphor works well in comparison. In gardening you must first remove any dead plants (necrotic tissue), before you can build good soil (granulation tissue). Gardeners use fertilizers and soil supplements; while wound therapists use calcium alginate (made from algae) on the wounds to help stimulate healing and silver to keep out harmful bacteria. And, like a good gardener prepares a bed before planting flowers, the same goes for growing the epidermis. A wound patient must go through all the proper, sometimes painful, therapy phases before total healing is realized. Right now I’m happy to be in the collagen phase of healing. Hopefully I’ll be completely healed by Christmas.

Sorry if this is all TMI. I've hesitated to share this story on my blog. Yet I do hope someone might learn from my experience. I wish I'd known two months ago what I do now: Not all doctors can treat certain kinds of wounds or even identify necrotic tissue. If I’d been sent to the Wound Clinic as soon as my wound had developed I would have healed in a fraction of the time and avoided all sorts of pain & unpleasantness. The moral is: if you're feeling uncomfortable definitely get a second opinion; it might save your life.

That said, I’d like to thank Dr. Debra Dollar and the wound therapists at NW Seton Hospital’s Wound Clinic. I’m very grateful for your help.

"Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light." Albert Schweitzer

Copyright © 2007-2009. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Spring in October

Copyright © 2007-2009. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

The rains have started falling and the drought may be slightly on the wane here in Austin, but as Robin at Getting Grounded explains in her entry Recapping the Summer from Hell 2009, it will take a whole lot of heavy showers before our lakes are full again. Still, my garden is finally happy after a long torturous summer. The sweltering 100+ temps started in May this year and stole spring from us. Now the cooler temperatures, wet weather and colorful flowers make me feel like spring has arrived in October.

This is the first year my Senna (Cassia?) flowered well. When I planted it several seasons ago it was little more than a twig. This summer the caterpillars clung to the foliage and butterflies drop in for an occasional sip at the blossoms...

Since space is at a premium I'm attempting to train it rather flat against the stark white brick wall...

The blooms are so luscious and plump, it's no wonder the butterflies can't resist them...

The drought scorched most of my groundcover this summer so I tried covering my mulch with some purslane (Portulaca oleracea). It flourished in the heat and the honey bees approved of all the flowers.

Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha), Bush Daisy (Euryops) and Prostrate Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis) are blooming all at once today...

This butterfly bush (Buddleia) is surprisingly attractive to humming birds as well as the butterflies.

Here's the view of the front flower bed from the lavender-skirted birdbath...

My basket of begonias looks so healthy you'd never guess the scorching summer heat ever bothered them...

Inside, this pink orchid is blooming in my breakfast window for the 3rd year in a row...

Mariah, my Siamese Cat, has completely recovered from her run-in with steroids. Here she seems to wonder when we're adding a screened-in porch for her bird-viewing pleasure.

From the window she can see the flower bed I've begun planting in the back garden.

I removed one of the dwarf yaupon holly under our family room window and am in the process of replacing it with salvia, bulbine and assorted flowering plants. I plan on replacing the remaining yaupon as well with hummingbird-friendly flowers like my new Salvia coccinea 'Coral nymph', seen here looking extremely pleased with itself...

Finally, I'd like to share a little good news: As some of you may know my son's former one-on-one school assistant inexplicably quit her job without giving notice. She just didn't show up on the first day of school this fall, which left the administrator's scrambling to hire someone and my son with substitute aides for the past month. I was very proud of him for coping so well despite the upheaval; not always easy for someone in the autistic spectrum. The good news is the school finally hired a nice lady for the job last week. I met her today and she seems like a lovely person. We're all breathing a collective sigh of relief, hoping things will get back to what passes for normal in our lives. Whew!

And with that, here's wishing all of you a very contented Autumn Gardening Season. If you get tired of your rain, please send it here, we're enjoying every drop in Austin.

"The best kind of rain, of course, is a cozy rain. This is the kind the anonymous medieval poet makes me remember, the rain that falls on a day when you'd just as soon stay in bed a little longer, write letters or read a good book by the fire, take early tea with hot scones and jam and look out the streaked window with complacency." ~Susan Allen Toth, England For All Seasons

Copyright © 2007-2009. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sweet September Get-Together

Copyright © 2007-2009. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

I'd like to say "Thank you!" to Diana of Sharing Nature's Garden and Robin of Getting Grounded for hosting a lovely get-together on September 26th for the Austin Garden Bloggers. What a beautiful garden you have, Diana. It was a pleasure to meet our new Ag Extension Agent, Daphne Richards and visit with so many garden bloggers from the area.

I didn't take many photos, but couldn't resist a pic during the plant swap at the end of the party when the ladies exchanged some wonderful horticultural goodies...

Diana was kind enough to give a nice seed pod to me from her hibiscus plant. It posed nicely in my Blue Willow funnel.

I'll try to propagate the seeds and plant some successful seedlings in my garden. Who knows, maybe I'll even have some plants to swap next time we get together.

"To know someone here or there with whom you can feel there is understanding in spite of distances or thoughts expressed That can make life a garden."~ Goethe

Copyright © 2007-2009. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Galveston: Recovering and Ready for Visitors

Copyright © 2007-2009. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

Our vacation in Galveston seems like a pleasant dream now that we're back home in drought besieged Austin again. The beach certainly was lovely this summer. We were relieved to see the island recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Ike. My son enjoyed the beach this year; this time without any surgery worries. What a difference a year makes!

Since the beach house we stayed in last year survived the hurricane we went ahead and rented it again this summer. We wanted to show our support for the area while having a nice vacation. It worked out well.

The owners of the home made many repairs on the house post-Ike, so it looked nice inside.

Of course, there was still a lot of evidence that the hurricane had hit. The sand dunes on the West end of the island were completely washed away, so we did not see any beach bunnies this year. Though incredibly, many of the bunnies survived and are living in the cow pastures behind the houses. As you look southwest from the top deck you can see how flat and rather bare the beach looks now compared to last year.

We were happy to see that some of the home-owners to the northeast are rebuilding the dunes and boardwalks once again. This will be very important for wildlife in the area as well as future storm-surge protection.

The outside of the house was different from last year. Gone are the BBQ area, swing and hammock. The huge waves of the storm managed to pick up the big concrete slab under the house and sweep it away. It's hard for me to even imagine that sort of power to be honest. In the photo below, the entire space you see under the house was covered with a concrete floor the year before. It's amazing that the pilings stood firm.

Speaking of standing firm; KHOU has created a memorial page entitled, Hurricane Ike: One Year Later, which offers moving visual perspectives on the power of the storm and how the people of Galveston are recovering.

I imagine the owners of our rental were relieved to have a repairable structure. The house just up the road leans so precariously on its pilings no one is allowed inside.

It's apparent everyone in the area has been hard at work. The huge piles of debris which once lined the roads are mostly gone from San Luis Pass. But we saw many houses being repaired and several homes wrapped in blue tarps. While rebuilding in an hurricane-prone area might seem an exercise in futility to some, the Wall Street Journal's Susan Warren explains why she is determined to maintain her family's water-front vacation home in the area...

Mother Nature has a way of healing as well. These wildflowers were volunteers growing on what used to be the dune between the house and the beach.

The seagulls are still plentiful. This little guy sat on the piling we used as our 1-mile marker during beach walks.

He may have been watching out for this dude with his powered paraglider a few hours earlier. After watching them whiz by from the relative safety of the deck for 3 years now, I admit I'm still not tempted to try it.
The brown pelicans glide a lot more quietly...though we couldn't resist saying, "Zoooom!" as they rode the wind currents above the decks. We could set our clocks by them. They traveled Northeast every morning and Southwest every afternoon.

My step-father flew his kites once again. The kite he's working with below was a bit trickier this year since the railing he'd tied it to last year was swept away by Ike.

My son's favorite outdoor activity was building sand castles under the shade of his own umbrella. Please notice his straight spine! ;-)

Since the Island is still recovering signs of damage were still apparent as we drove around. Here is the Flagship Hotel with its gaping hole on the end. It seems they plan to tear down the hotel at some point in the near future.

As we drove through the area to look at the beautiful historic homes we saw unhappy proof of the many oak trees that are dying from salt water damage. In the photo below you can see the palms are fine, but the big old oaks look dead.

Despite a great deal of loss the residents are trying to rebuild and move forward. This group of Segway riders brought a smile to our faces one Sunday morning. Amid the ancient and melancholy oaks, they were determined to have a good time.

We found that about 75% of our favorite stores, galleries and restaurants in Galveston had repaired and reopened this summer. The rest are either still renovating or may be closed indefinitely. This recent CNN report explains how well Galveston businesses are recovering...

Fisherman's Wharf is opened for business. The Tall Ship Elissa next door sustained some damage to its fore lower topsail which was repaired by sailmaker Jim Brink. As we ate at the Wharf we enjoyed watching the ships roll by in the Port of Galveston.

I love the Wharf's mosaic floors...

We discovered some new favorites in town including The Mosquito Cafe. The charming owner, like almost everyone we spoke with, shared the story about the damage his business and home had sustained. He said Ike's flood waters reached well over the front door inside the restaurant and stood there for days. He restored everything to its former glory. It looks fantastic and the food tastes delicious!

He even replanted the little garden in courtyard out back.

We found the best antique store on the island: Big House Antiques and made friends with their parrot, Hadley.

Last, but not least, we stopped by our favorite local book store, Galveston Bookshop. We shopped and my parents donated several boxes of books that they'd brought down from Missouri for the owner. If you go to the site you can see photos of the shop after Ike and the incredible cleanup they accomplished. The store looks great and I'm happy to report that Gus the bookstore shop cat is doing very well.

We love Galveston and hope to visit again soon.

"Birds sing after a storm; why shouldn't people feel as free to delight in whatever remains to them?" Rose Kennedy

Copyright © 2007-2009. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.